The tragedy of Iraq
Iraq’s government troops seem unable to halt the relentless march south by the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, is powerless.
ISIS, a breakaway group of al-Qaeda, wants to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Its 3,000 to 5,000 brutal fighters have exploited the chaos in Syria and the weak and Shia-centric regime of Mr al-Maliki in Iraq. They are able to advance through Iraq facing no real resistance from the army and are now a direct threat to Baghdad. A dedicated, fanatical, well organised and well- armed group is confronting a demotivated army.
Peshmerga, Kurdish fighters, took the city of Kirkuk just south of the Kurdish autonomous zone, in order to protect the Kurdish autonomous area and Kurdish interests. Kirkuk lies outside the Kurdish autonomous area but is considered to be Kurdish by the Kurds.
It seems that only the Kurdish Peshmerga protecting the north and the Shiite militia offer any hope of stopping ISIS.
Incorporating Kirkuk under Kurdish control could be a further step to greater Kurdish autonomy. GIS reported about the possibility of a Kurdish state about a year ago. Refugees, numbering more than half a million, are already asking for shelter in the Kurdish autonomous area or fleeing south.
What we are seeing now is the end of the dream of a democratic unified state of Iraq. It should be recognised, as GIS has described repeatedly in our world reports, that Iraq is a totally artificial state. It was created through the division of British and French interests at the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds are the major groups. The Christians in Iraq have almost disappeared, but there are still other minorities such as Turkmens.
Iraq, just like former Yugoslavia, is a ‘political Frankenstein’. When the US and their allies invaded Iraq, it was to eliminate the bloodthirsty dictator Saddam Hussein who intended to destabilize the entire Middle East. The pretext of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was unfortunate, but his elimination was logical.
The mistake was to apply the theory of a united democratic state after the invasion, and not allowing the regions of Iraq to determine their own future for themselves.
We may now start to observe the dissolution of this artificial state. It will have repercussions for the neighboring powers and Iran and Turkey may also intervene directly. The Kurdish issue is of paramount importance to Turkey and also important to Iran. Iran also sees itself as the protector of Shiites, the largest group in Iraq.
A disorderly dissolution in an unstable area with differing and competing interests among neighboring powers is very dangerous.
However this dissolution happens, applying the democratic principle of self-determination may be the only sustainable solution.